Tesla will finally unveil a planned expansion of its “master plan” on March 1st at the company’s “Investor Day” summit at Giga Texas, said CEO Elon Musk today.
Tesla announced its “Investor Day” event last month, to occur in March. This is a new event by Tesla, seemingly separate from the annual shareholder event, where some investors will be invited to see updates on Tesla’s progress. The event will be livestreamed as well. In the past, Tesla has held a “Battery Day” and an “AI Day” focusing on those topics.
The company said that Investor Day would include factory tours and discussion of Tesla’s long-term expansion plans and its upcoming generation 3 vehicle platform. Its announcement came after the end of Tesla’s worst year in the stock market ever, dropping some 65% in 2022. We now know that Investor Day will include Tesla’s newest “master plan.”
Musk first teased this expansion of Tesla’s “Master Plan” last March, meaning almost a year has passed since it was first publicly mentioned. We thought there was a chance the plan would be unveiled at Investor Day, and that prediction was confirmed today.
This is the third version of the company’s “master plan,” the first of which was posted in 2006.
Master Plan Part One
At first, Tesla’s “secret master plan” was a cheeky blog post on the company’s original blog site. The goal was to lay out the vision behind Tesla as a company, and let people know what the company was planning to do. The idea was, instead of auto industry plans being shrouded in secrecy, Tesla would be upfront about what it wanted to do to change the industry – to lead us into an all-electric future.
So, the four steps of the original plan went thusly:
- Build sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
These referred to the original Tesla Roadster, the Tesla Model S (which was originally intended to start at $50,000 after credits), and the Tesla Model 3 (originally intended to start at $35,000).
Then, ten years down the line, in 2016, the company had finished the first two steps and was in the process of acquiring SolarCity and putting the final touches on the Model 3, and thus, the end of the plan was in sight. So it was time for an update.
Master Plan Part Two
Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” was less cheeky, but again laid out the future plans of the company. In short, these were the four steps this time around:
- Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
- Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
- Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
- Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
These steps were a little more complicated, a little more specific, and perhaps a little more aspirational. And Tesla has seen perhaps less success bringing them to market than the steps of the original plan.
Step 1 has been completed, and some customers do have solar roofs, but installations have never really gotten off the ground in large numbers, and Tesla has drastically cut back on installations of solar roofs.
Step 2 is basically complete, depending on how we define “major.” Cybertruck is nearing production, and is probably about as close to market as Model 3 was at the time Part Deux was posted. Tesla Semi is on the road now, and Tesla has both large and mid-size luxury sedans and crossovers available. These are most of the main “major” segments of vehicles, though Tesla does not have a truly affordable car (even its “$35k” model now starts at $43,940 after a recent huge price drop) or any small sedan or hatchback. Or a sportscar, for that matter, but that’s not really a major segment.
Step 3 could be argued, but requires heavy massaging of the data. Tesla’s most recent Autopilot safety report shows one accident per 4.31 million miles while activated, compared to one accident per 484,000 miles for average vehicles. This is about 10x, but doesn’t take into account that Autopilot is mostly used on highways, which are dramatically safer than city roads, and new cars are safer than older cars as well. When comparing to Tesla cars without Autopilot active, Autopilot is only about 2.7x safer “than manual” – and again, this does not account for highway vs. surface street differences.
And step 4 is not even close (unless you listen to Musk, who has been promising self-driving tech “by this time next year” for about ten years now).
So, execution of this plan has been a little more equivocal than the first. Nevertheless, Tesla sees a need to issue an update regardless, this time seven years after the previous plan was posted, instead of ten.
Master Plan, Part Three
So, what’s left for Master Plan Part Three?
Well, Musk’s announcement today suggested that “the path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth will be presented on March 1”:
Tesla has previously said that Master Plan Part 3 is “all about achieving very large scale” in vehicle and battery pack production, including mining and refining, enough to “actually shift the entire energy infrastructure of earth.” Tesla has recently considered getting into mining, which could end up being part of the master plan update, and is rumored to be looking to build a factory in Mexico as well.
Musk’s statement today suggests that the plan won’t just include discussion of cars, but also sustainable energy options. Tesla’s current sustainable energy products include solar system installations, solar roof tiles, and stationary battery installations with Powerwalls (for home storage) and Powerpacks (for grid storage). Then there’s Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant program, where Powerwall owners can join a distributed network of energy storage to help back up the grid in times of need.
These are basically covered in step 4 of the first master plan, and step 1 of the second master plan, so we suspect they will make an appearance in the third master plan.
It seems likely that we’ll see something similar to the incomplete points of the last master plan, perhaps having to do with autonomous driving. Particularly, maybe we’ll hear an update on the dedicated robotaxi which Tesla has alluded to multiple times.
Beyond that, the image chosen for the advertisement is notable, as it seems to be a large repeating pattern of many stamped car bodies. This refers to the previously-announced focus on production scaling, as Tesla still plans to scale car production and deliveries by ~50% per year for the foreseeable future. Tesla delivered 1.3 million in 2022, which was up 40% from 2021, and wants to deliver 1.8-2 million cars in 2023.
And perhaps, even though Tesla used pictures of a Model 3 body, it might announce a new, even-more-mass-production model.
Tesla has previously mentioned that Investor Day would include discussion of its “generation 3” platform, which is expected to be more affordable than the Model 3/Y platform. Since those cars were originally meant to start at around $35k, the next step was to release a vehicle starting at around $25k, but Tesla has gone back and forth on whether that car was in the plans.
We suspect we’ll find out on March 1 whether it is.
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